Why Would Crispin Turn To Crowdsourcing? Ask Drummond.

Colin Drummond heads up what is traditionally known as account planning at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. He also believes in the power of crowdsourcing (a topic we took up during last night’s BeanCast).
On his blog-like-thing, Drummond argues:

Be afraid. Be very afraid. OK, if you don’t want to be afraid, at least understand how big this is. The reason it’s spreading is because it’s working. Sure, you have to sift through a lot of the crappy ideas you get, but there are some good ones in there. Actually, not just good ideas, REALLY good ideas.

Thankfully, in the comments on his post he adds a key piece of information:

In our world, we have 2 assets that make creativity a usable commodity: the strategy and the creative director. Between the 2, we have the necessary filters to identify cool work that will work.

In other words, crowdsourcing in the hands of Crispin is a good thing–it’s a rabbit hole for professional ad people to stick their paws into.
Over on fellow Crispinite John Winsor’s site, the discussion continues.
Ed Cotton of Butler Shine & Stern comments:

It can certainly happen–Unilever just moved its Pepperami account in the UK from Lowe to the consumer…However, it’s not as easy as it sounds…It needs good production skills, the right incentives and the right brand.

I’ll look into this Pepperami case, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that some of the top people in the business recognize that crowdsourcing can be an aid and/or a disruptive competitive force.
In last night’s BeanCast conversation I said crowdsourcing is here to stay, but it’s not a threat to the agency business. My reasoning is that clients get the work they deserve (and can afford). If a small business can only spend $500 for a logo, crowdsourcing might be a good option. But such scenarios have little to do with the agency business, where $500 won’t even buy lunch for the team.
Another important distinction that we talked about last night is the fact that putting a project out for a bid to thousands of participants (as Crispin just did on behalf of Brammo) is not the same thing as gaining wisdom from the crowd. It’s merely a contest and it’s not open source.
WordPress is a great example of a product that is built and continually improved via wisdom of the crowd. One hacker looks at the new code from another hacker and riffs from there, an act that’s like playing in a band. Putting a bid out for the best work at the lowest price is something totally different, but both practices tend to go by the same name–crowdsourcing.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. “It needs good production skills, the right incentives and the right brand.”
    That’s true. When I said on the show that there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a shot at doing a Pepsi spot, obviously that means you’d also have access to the same production talent too. Also agree that it takes the right client to see beyond the typical agency relationship to allow ideas from anywhere.
    But I’m still sticking to the theory that while crowdsourcing may start out being about the best idea, money ends up driving it.

  2. Crowdsourcing video gives you a number of advantages that the traditional agency model doesn’t. Instead of harvesting the ideas of one or (at most) two creative teams at an agency, you are gathering ideas from hundreds of talented people around the U.S. / World. Sometimes the idea alone is the goal; other times, its the actual video that is received. One of our clients bought an idea that was presented in video form, and then re-shot it with their own production teams.
    Instead of selecting from three proposed storyboards, you select from 25-50 finished pieces of film … and on average, you’ll have a handful that are really, really well done.
    Instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a finished spot, you pay about one-tenth of that amount, and often times, you can buy two or three spots for a pool of commercials instead of just one.
    So instead of agonizing over how to squeeze out one more commercial out of an already compressed budget, you can purchase two or three and use the rest of the money you saved for media time purchases.

  3. Thanks for that perspective Neil. I don’t doubt you will be successful with this model.
    But I still believe in Leo Burnett’s lonely man.

    Finally, when you lose your respect for the lonely man – the man at his typewriter or his drawing board or behind his camera or just scribbling notes with one of our big pencils – or working all night on a media plan. When you forget that the lonely man – and thank God for him – has made the agency we now have – possible. When you forget he’s the man who, because he is reaching harder, sometimes actually gets hold of for a moment – one of those hot, unreachable stars.
    THAT, boys and girls, is when I shall insist you take my name off the door.

    Who’s with me (and Leo)?

  4. Crowdsourcing is a slippery slop if feel. If Brammo got a 754 entries for free and the winner gets $1000 what is stopping Pepsi from crowdsourcing a logo redesign getting probably over 10,000 entries and award the winner $10,000 dollars instead of paying someone like Arnell Group those millions. From there what is stopping Budweiser from crowdsourcing everything from a single spot for say the Super Bowl (which is a nice money maker for agencies) to crowdsourcing a marketing plan.

  5. Stephen Marshall says:

    Why is the industry acting like Crispin’s use of “crowdsourcing” is such a startlingly bold and original concept?
    I hate to break it to all those posters prostrating themselves before the brilliance that is Crispin, but there have been open calls for logo designs long before the advent of the Internet. And what about all those contests where the public was invited to come up with slogans and jingles? The practice was so common, it was a regular plot device on sitcoms like “The Flintstones.”
    And, more recently, what about that consumer-created commercial for Doritos (or was it Cheetos) that ran during the Super Bowl a few years back? I’d argue that was far more ambitious than designing a logo.
    Just because they cloak it in the latest jargon doesn’t mean the idea itself is new.
    The only aspect of the controversy worth getting worked up over is the measly compensation. The winner only gets $1000 for a logo that will, in theory, be used for years to come? And just how much will Crispin get for this? They may not be making millions on this account but you can be damn sure they’ll be making more than just a grand for their efforts.

  6. @Stephen Marshall
    I think everyone is startled that is Crispin is crowdsourcing because of their strong stance on no spec work.
    They don’t believe in pitches and are standing by that by not defending the VW account.
    I don’t think Crispin is getting any out of this and that is why they are try crowdsourcing. Their interns were won in an eBay auction by Brammo for about $18,000. The interns designed a logo (among other things) but the client didn’t seem to like it I am guessing, so Alex Burnard, a CP&B CD, put it on CrowdSpring.

  7. Burnett’s lonely man is invested. He gets his hands dirty. He probably believes in the client’s product with a greater, deeper passion than the client himself. And you don’t find that type of creative on a crowdsourcing site.